History ETDs

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This thesis studies the state of California's responses to migratory families and children during the Depression and Dust Bowl. In particular, it emphasizes the growth of several state bureaucracies during this time, including the Department of Public Health, the Department of Education, and the Youth Authority. It also engages with local nonprofit relief agencies as well as county agencies, which functioned as direct aid providers to migrants. The efforts to provide relief to migrant families are explained, as are the surrounding rhetorical frameworks used to discuss the perceived negative attributes of migrant children. These discourses influenced administrators, California residents, and other agents, and they responded by creating new programs, such as school lunches, and by reforming old ones, such as the juvenile detention facilities. This work also sheds light on how Progressive ideas interacted with the New Deal state and anti-migrant sentiment to complicate the treatment of transient youths. This account also challenges the Dust Bowl historiographic turn away from histories of the state, arguing instead that understanding the migrant child's experience requires an in-depth analysis of state programs.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Smith, Jason Scott

Second Committee Member

Cahill, Cathleen



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